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Kidsday attends Read Across America event

Actor and singer Common with Kidsday reporters, from

Actor and singer Common with Kidsday reporters, from left, Brian Stieglitz, Kim Mariduena and Grace Barrett-Snyder at Target's Read Across America event at the New York Public Library. (Feb. 24, 2011) Credit: Newsday/Pat Mullooly

It was 9 o’clock in the morning (which was a bit early for us teenagers on a day off from school). The three of us – (Kim Mariduena, 15, of Merrick, Brian Stieglitz, 16, of Seaford and myself) walked to The New York Public Library.

“READ” was atop the monument, with thousands of Dr. Seuss books filling its interior. We waited in the lobby, not completely sure how things will unfold. Kim had her coffee at hand, while Brian watched the press pass dangle from his neck. I fumbled with my phone, anxiously waiting.

A few minutes later, we were brought to the main room. The library was full of activity. Over the microphone, a Target corporation representative greeted us.

“Welcome to the National Education Association’s annual Read Across America.” Music was playing, and various breakfast items lined the buffet tables.

Lights were going off from the many cameras that were taking pictures. Bullseye, the Target dog, was there for a photo op. She posed with kids as she basked in the spotlight. Kids were huddled on the floor with their parents, some curled in blankets. They wore tall red and white striped hats, ready to hear celebrities narrate their favorite books.

And, in return, those celebrities (Uma Thurman, Mark Ruffalo, Common, and Keri Russell) were ready to read their favorite Dr. Seuss book to all those kids.

Before Kim, Brian, and I could hear a single word from "The Cat in the Hat," we were escorted through the back and into the green room, a restricted lounge for the celebrities and their friends.

I must say, the name “The Green Room” was misleading -- every part of wall space was red. But regardless, it was pretty cool.

We took our time to chat with Uma Thurman, who really showed us her passion for reading. She believes reading is an important “escape” for children, and she even said that reading was her inspiration to start an acting career.

For the next interview, the three of us sat around Keri Russell. She made us laugh, which calmed our nerves as we proceeded to ask her questions.

Talking with Common was also a lot of fun. He had a great voice to read "Green Eggs and Ham" aloud, and all the kids in the audience enjoyed listening (including me!).

Our final interview was with Mark Ruffalo. He was genuine and shared some of his struggle to get his kids wrapped up in a bedtime book, as many families experience. Mark loved the idea of giving back to children and giving them the opportunity to read and learn just as they deserve.

The entire Read Across America event was wonderful, and we had so much fun. As the festivities came to an end, we had to leave… but not without getting a picture with Bullseye!

Want to find out more about this great program? Visit the website

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